Zweli Mkhize. Picture: GALLO IMAGES
Zweli Mkhize. Picture: GALLO IMAGES

Almost 1,750 people have now been infected by the coronavirus in SA, with the death tally increasing to 13 people, health minister Zweli Mkhize said on Tuesday.

Mkhize told a media briefing  in Johannesburg that the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases had increased to 1,749 cases, up from 1,686 cases on Monday evening.

Mkhize said a 60-year-old male had died at the Netcare Parklands Hospital in Durban. He had been transferred from the Netcare St Augustine's hospital.

Mkhize said the patient had stage 4 prostate cancer, but was found to be positive for Covid-19.

 The most recent patient's death has put greater focus on St Augustine's hospital in Morningside, Durban, as four other Covid-19 patients have died there.

Mkhize said the department was “quite concerned” over the developments at St Augustine's. He said more than 300 tests have been done across the board at the hospital, including the testing the hospital's staff.

Mkhize said 66 of those tested were positive, and 48 of these were staff members while 15 were patients. The remaining three were patients who were transferred out of the hospital.

Mkhize said they have asked the provincial health department to engage with the hospital about closing down a major part of the facility. Only a small section should remain open to treat existing patients and Covid-19 cases.

He said  they hoped a decontamination process would start soon in the section that will be closed. He said the government had told the hospital to stop admitting new patients and to close its doors to outpatients until the decontamination process is completed.

Strong intervention was needed, he said, as the contacts of the 66 people found to be infected would now have to be traced to villages and informal settlements, and that it was a “serious concern”.

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